“Refills” allow consumers to reuse plastic bottles and avoid waste

In front of an apartment building in Savannah, Georgia, on a final evening, a small panel truck decorated with green leaves sits next to a food truck serving Po’boys. Inside are wooden shelves with reusable cleaning supplies and a wall of large pump bottles.

this is that Lite Foot Co.which owner Katie Rodgers-Hubbard calls a “refill facility.”

“We’re just helping you transition from plastic,” she said. “We weigh the containers before and after and then it’s all just 30 grams, so you can get a little, you can get a lot.”

This way, when customers need a new shampoo, toner or dish soap, instead of throwing away the old plastic bottle and buying a new one, they can just refill it. Refilling a 16-ounce bottle of shampoo costs just over $19.

This isn’t exactly a new idea folks In the past, you could have Coca-Cola glass bottles refilled at the grocery store. But companies are turning to this old solution when they and their customers look for ways to combat the climate crisis.

Rodgers-Hubbard drives their refill truck to local farmers markets and food truck events. And the idea seems to work. After a little over a year in business, she is preparing to open a physical store. There she plans to offer workshops on other sustainable practices, like composting and mending clothes instead of throwing them away.

“My whole goal is to make sustainability easy and accessible for people,” she said.

That’s the appeal for customer Samantha Keough, who said she’s happy to find a local store that’s helping her recycle plastic bottles, rather than ordering plastic-free products online that then have to be shipped from far and wide.

“Bringing in products from other countries just has such a huge carbon impact,” Keough said.

Even single-use plastic has an enormous carbon footprint. Rodgers-Hubbard said that lower consumption helps reduce the use of fossil fuels like gas and oil, which worsen climate change.

“There’s so much fossil fuel that goes into the production and then also into the recycling of plastic,” she said. “So our goal should be to use things that are meant to last forever.”

And plastic plays a big part in the warming of the planet, according to Environment Georgia’s Jessica Wahl.

“On our current trajectory, plastic production will be responsible for the same amount of climate-damaging pollution as 295 coal-fired power plants by 2030,” she said.

To help people reduce their plastic use, stores across the country are adopting the refill model, including Atlanta-based sustainable beauty salon Fig & Flower. Owner Rachel Taylor said it does more than reduce carbon footprint.

“We have all this plastic that goes into the oceans and then you have microplastics,” she said. “By just keeping your bottle and using it over and over again, you just don’t throw as much plastic on the market.”

In the grand scheme of a global crisis, reusing and refilling containers for individuals and small businesses is just one step. But Rodgers-Hubbard said she hopes this business model can influence others.

“Every decision you make, the things you spend money on, sends messages to the people who produce them,” she said.

She said there is a clear market for more sustainable products – and that should be an incentive for other companies to jump in.

This coverage is made possible through a partnership with WAVE and the nonprofit media organization grist.

There’s a lot happening in the world. For everything, Marketplace is there for you.

They rely on Marketplace to break down world events and tell you how they affect you in a fact-based and accessible way. In order to continue to make this possible, we depend on your financial support.

Your donation today supports the independent journalism you rely on. For just $5/month you can help keep Marketplace going so we can keep reporting on the things you care about.

Comments are closed.